Coach Steve Hansen plays down hype about All Blacks ahead of British & Irish Lions test
World champions New Zealand demolish Samoa 78-0 ahead of next week’s first meeting against the tourists
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen warned not to draw any conclusions about their comprehensive 78-0 thrashing of Samoa as his world champions set their sights on the British & Irish Lions.
It was a stunning performance by the All Blacks after a slow start as they pounded Samoa with speed, accuracy, and daring passes.
It had British journalists using words such as “imperious” and “ominous” to describe the All Blacks.
The All Blacks feasted on 12 tries as they played by “instinct”, according to Hansen who added the real treat would come next week when they face the Lions in the first test.
“Éveryone’s been waiting for this moment,” he said. “It’s like you’ve been given chocolates and you’ve unwrapped them and your allowed to eat them. That’s the best part. That’s the point we’re at.”
Hansen sees the Lions as a much more formidable opponent than the Samoan side brought together for the All Blacks’ dress rehearsal before facing the cream of British and Irish playing talent.
“It was good, but it wasn’t that good, so we won’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said when asked to rate the thumping of Samoa.
“The beast we’re going to get come Saturday is going to be totally different. They’ll look to take away all our time and space with their line speed. they’ll look to dominate us up front.
“Unless we get those parts our game right then we’ll struggle. But we know what’s coming so it’s just a matter of making sure we’re ready for it.”
The All Blacks did not prepare for the Samoa clash as they would for a normal international with the focus of the week-long preparation on establishing combinations rather than being match specific.
“We didn’t treat it like a test week. We rolled the dice in making sure it was all about our attitude,” Hansen said. “It was ‘sort it out and trust our instincts’ when we played.”
The All Blacks fielded their likely test side against Samoa with the exception of regular skipper Kieran Read who has been sidelined with a broken thumb.
Hansen was not prepared to say if Read would start, as expected, in the first Lions test saying he would not give clues before the team naming on Thursday.
But he did reveal the centres would probably be Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ryan Crotty, with one of them coming off the bench.
“One thing about Sonny is he’s like an old meat pie. He gets all the flies and everyone else is okay. So as [Samoa] tried to get on top of him that opens up for other people and Anton was good enough to take the space,” said Hansen.
“Ryan is a real heady player, he’s a good talker, and when your under immense pressure you need someone like that.”